Judy Tallwing McCarthey [Edit]

Photo of Judy Tallwing McCarthey
          Judy Tallwing McCarthey

Judy Tallwing McCarthey (born Judy Browning in 1945) is an American leather activist best known as the first International Ms. Leather, a title she earned in 1987.

Involvement in Leather

Judy first entered the leather world in 1959 when she was rescued from homelessness by a leather master.

In 1986, she and her life partner Sashie Hyatt, as well as Sallee Huber, founded the women’s S/M organization Portland Power and Trust (referring to Portland, Oregon).

In 1987, she became the first International Ms. Leather. While the contest was originally envisioned primarily as a one-night fundraising event, being International Ms Leather immediately started to become a year-round commitment. Judy began holding fundraisers in various cities and used her visibility as a titleholder to draw attention and money to various worthy causes. This community activism and outreach is now an integral part of what it means to be International Ms. Leather.

Also in 1987, she was the leather community’s keynote speaker at the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

From 1989 to 1990 she was a co-chair of the National Leather Association.

She also operated Mr. S Leather for some time.

Awards and Honors

1989 – Woman of the Year award, shared with Shan Carr, as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.

1996 and 2001 – Forebear Award, as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.

2003 – Lifetime Achievement Award, as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards.

2020 – Leather Leadership Award, as part of the [American] National LGBTQ Task Force.

A video of her speech at International Ms. Leather in 1987 is shown in the exhibition “A Room of Her Own” at the Leather Archives & Museum.

Personal life

She is mainly of Apache descent, with some Tewa (another Native American tribe), African-American, and Irish heritage, and she attended Indian boarding school. She is openly lesbian.